The Roman Rivals

A circular walk of 5 miles including 1,800 feet of elevation overall. Start Point: The car park at Porth y Nant, Llithfaen, Llyn Peninsula, Gwynedd. LL53 6NU.  Map References: SH 353440 or Lat: 52.967993 Lon: -4.453934 

adult-blur-boots-1452784This walk includes three modest peaks known collectively as Yr Eifl, or The Rivals. Some scrambling required down to the remains of an Iron Age hill fort, but nothing especially challenging and much of the route is on good clear pathways forming part of the coastal network. On a clear day, the views from Garn Ganol reach as far as the Isle of Man, the Wicklow mountains in Ireland and the Lake District, as well as the whole of Cardigan Bay.

An area rich in ancient history, the smallest and most northern summit is Garn For. The central (and tallest) summit, Garn Ganol, features a cairn and a trig point, and those extensive coastal views. The eastern summit, Tre’r Ceiri, is home to one of the most well-preserved Iron Age hill forts in Britain. There was an extensive survey in 1956 from which evidence of occupation during the Roman period dated from 150 to 400 A.D. And at the start of the walk over the Graig Ddu cliffs, there are views of Nant Gwrtheyrn and the remains of three quarries which were established in the area during the 1860s. During the late nineteenth century the village of Porth y Nant consisted of workmen’s houses, a shop, a bakery, a mansion, a school, and a chapel. Sadly, once the quarries closed around 1950, the village was abandoned and the buildings fell into disrepair. Today, the beautifully renovated site hosts the Welsh Heritage Centre and down to its stunning location, it’s also a popular wedding venue.

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The route

  1. From the car park, head up the wide stone track as it winds gradually towards the pass between Garn For and Garn Ganol. Garn For is an optional climb and the way is mostly along man-made steps forming part of the quarry and communications station. The real climbing begins when you pick up the clear track heading towards Garn Ganol, and the way is clear to see snaking towards the summit.
  2. Towards the final third the path is strewn with boulders and some negotiation is required to make the final climb; mostly bearing left to locate the narrow path. This winds up to the summit, then turn right at the top to find the cairn and the trig-point.
  3. From the trig-point, begin to descend on a path heading in an easterly direction towards Tre’r Ceiri. At the bottom, pass through a kissing-gate by a footpath sign and continue across the flat, marshy area covered in heather, bilberry and cotton grass.
  4. The final ascent to the fort is an easy climb as you head up towards the perimeter wall, at one point passing through a wide entrance with stone ramparts. From the summit it’s easy to see the formation of the original fort.
  5. Return along the same route, but then turn left in a south-westerly direction as you reach the final section of the boundary walls, where a clear grassy path hugs the base of Garn Ganol. Pass through the metal kissing-gate and continue ahead along the grass track by a footpath sign.
  6. Before the white cottage take the right fork and head upwards, continuing on a wide grass track. Then at the top, turn right as you reach the wall and keeping the wall to your left, follow the track back down to the car park.

The described route is a guide only, it’s always advisable to use a map or a GPS device.

Conwy Valley Lakes

A circular walk of 9 miles including 1,400 feet of elevation overall. Start Point: Opposite Trefriw Woollen Mill, Main Road, Trefriw LL27 0NQ.

adult-blur-boots-1452784Llyn Crafnant and Llyn Geirionydd are two of the largest natural lakes in the Conwy Valley (both around a mile long) and together, they make for a scenic, varied walk along mostly well-defined paths as part of the Trefriw Trails network. It’s possible to shorten this particular route and reduce the elevation by skipping the climb up from Trefriw and parking instead at either of the designated lakeside car parks.

Spring and autumn are especially rewarding seasons to enjoy this route due to the colour diversity of the trees, the bluebells and the wild garlic. And the falls by Trefriw Mill are especially spectacular when in full spate. Crafnant takes its name from ‘craf’, an old Welsh word for garlic, and ‘nant’, a stream or valley. The lakes run parallel to each other but a mile apart, being separated by Mynydd Deulyn, known as the mountain of the two lakes. Like much of Wales, the Crafnant valley has a long association with mining, and the Pandora Mine and Klondyke Mill (1900-1911) was for a short time an industrial lead ore enterprise. There are few, if any, fish in Geirionydd; quite likely the result of poisoning from the adjacent metal mines. However, the lake boasts a number of literary connections: Ieuan Glan Geirionydd (1795–1855) was born on the banks of Afon Geirionydd, and renowned for his poetry and hymns. Taliesin (c. 534–c.599), was a 6th-century Welsh bard, and the earliest poet of the Welsh language whose work has survived. Taliesin lived on the shores of Llyn Geirionydd, and this is also where many say he is buried.

The route

  1. From the parking area, turn right along the main road then cross opposite The Fairy Falls Hotel and enter the side street, where a Trefriw Trails sign directs you along a footpath to the left. After a short distance, take the right turn indicated by another trails arrow alongside the river and follow the path as it hairpins back on itself, before crossing the bridge.
  2.  Turn right after the bridge along a short path and then at the end, turn right onto a road. At the T junction, turn left, then look for the footpath sign into the woods. Follow the path for more than a mile as it climbs steadily towards Llyn Geirionydd, the way marked by yellow trail markers. At the rocky knoll there’s a good view of the remains of Klondyke Mill.
  3. The route continues over a stream, then up to a wooden gate. Continue on the trail until you reach the final stile which brings you to the outskirts of Llyn Geirionydd. Either walk along the single-track road to the left of the lake or take a right turn at the head of the lake and take the footpath along the far shoreline, close to the water’s edge.
  4. If you choose to walk along the road, take the first right after the end of the lake, then follow the footpath posts denoted by a footprint as they head up into the forest. If you’ve chosen to walk along the shoreline, then both routes conjoin here. Follow the forest track as it winds up and bears right.
  5. Once over the stream, cease following the markers and take a right turn up through the trees to arrive on the forest road again, then pick up the blue markers. Bear left and head towards the next marker nestled in the grass verge. Follow the directions up into the forest and walk along the track which climbs up through the fir trees, then descends towards Llyn Crafnant.
  6. Before the final stile on the track, turn left as indicated by several trail markers and follow the well-defined path within sight of the lake. Pass through the kissing-gate at the end then turn left at the single-track road. At the end, pass through the gate and turn right.
  7. Follow the stone path as it passes through another gate and then turn right to cross over a wooden bridge just before a dwelling. Continue along the stone path as it follows the natural shoreline of the lake. At the head of the lake, turn left onto the single-track road with the stream to your left. At the car park entrance, also on the left, look for a right fork denoted by a footpath sign and follow this wide path as it climbs up towards a gate.
  8. Pass through the metal gate and stay on the forestry road but ignore the sharp right-hand turn and go straight on, following the yellow markers to take a stile into a wooded area with slate heaps either side. The path here undulates through a wooded area and some of the way is hampered by tree roots and boulders. At the fork, take either path as they both conjoin later on at a ladder stile over the wall by a stream.
  9. Once over the wall, the path is distinct again as it heads back up towards Llyn Geirionydd and passes the monument dedicated to Taliesin on a rise to the left. Once back at the lakeside turn left and pick up the trail from point 3 to retrace your steps back to Trefriw.

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The described route is a guide only, it’s always advisable to use a map or a GPS device.

Craflwyn and Llyn Dinas

A circular walk of 7.5 miles including 1,200 feet of elevation overall. Start Point:  Craflwyn National Trust car park on the A498, Beddgelert, Gwynedd, LL55 4NG. Map References: SH 59945-48928 or Lat: 53019270 Lon: -4089377 

adult-blur-boots-1452784Considering the modest elevation this walk offers plenty of scenic variety and on a clear day, far-reaching views and a real sense of being in the heart of Snowdonia. Streams shape the landscape here, all flowing towards three rivers; the Gorsen, the Cwm Llan, and the Y Cwm, all of which eventually join forces with the Afon Glaslyn. As a result, the first section of the route can be boggy, although much work has been carried out over the previous 12 months with huge boulders forming a solid path of stepping stones – allowing the land to be navigated whether streams are trickling or tumbling. Welsh black cattle – belonging to the National Trust’s Hafod Y Llan farm, graze here. Essential for land management, these cattle produce some of the best organic beef in the world.

You’ll come across the remains of old copper mineshafts scattered across these hillsides – last worked in the late 1800’s. Due to the copper, the streams and rivers are sterile although clear and often a deep turquoise. Further downstream, where the copper becomes diluted, salmon and trout return, also inhabiting the pretty Llyn Dinas. The lake takes its name from the nearby Dinas Emrys, a rocky and wooded hill where the remains of both medieval and older fortifications have been found. A rock near the lake – called the Stone of the Eagle – was said in a charter of 1198 to mark the spot where the boundaries of the three cantrefs of Aberconwy, Ardudwy and Arfon met. According to legend, an eagle used to perch on it once a week, anticipating battle between the three men.

The route

  1. Start by taking the footpath visible from the car park through woodland, following the black arrow way-markers. Continue past a carved wooden dragon bench and a small waterfall, climbing steadily to reach a giant carved chair at the first viewpoint.
  2. Still following the black arrow way-markers, the route continues up steps and crosses over a small stile in a fence. Follow the path east towards Bylchau Terfyn, eventually crossing a stile in the wall. Although the going is rough – rock, bog and uneven ground – the path is clearly marked by stepping stones where necessary, and way-markers. When you reach the old wooden bridge, cross this and bear left back onto the main track.
  3. Head up towards a broken stone dwelling by the old copper mine; then pass this ruin on your left and continue on the track, until you reach a stile in the wall. Begin a steady descent towards the Watkin Path. The views here are especially good on a clear day – Moel Siabod standing in isolation ahead, Llynn Gwynant nestled below.
  4. Once you join the Watkin Path – one of the main Snowdon routes – the black way-markers cease. Turn right and follow the well-defined path. The impressive Afon Cwm Llan waterfalls will be on your left and the last stretch of the Watkin Path takes you through the ancient oak woodlands of Parc Hafod y Llan. At the single-track lane, turn right. And at the end of this lane, cross the main road and turn left, continuing through the lay-by.
  5. Take a right turn towards Plas Gwynant, which is also signed as a footpath. Follow the lane, taking the left fork up through the trees. At the end of this lane, turn sharp right just before the cattle grid and follow a short path through the woods, taking a bridge to cross the stream.
  6.  At the top of this track, turn right onto a single-track road. Follow this road until you reach another cattle grid on the left – turn left here – by the footpath sign for Llyndy Isaf Farm. Follow this track past the farm and continue towards Llyn Dinas, where the route follows the shores of the lake.
  7. At the end of the lake, bear left – ignoring the bridge to the right – and continue to follow the Glaslyn River as it heads downstream towards Beddgelert – until you reach the Sygun Copper Mines. Turn right here and cross the stone bridge onto the main road. Take a sharp left through a wooden gate and follow the path alongside the road.
  8. At the end of this path, cross the main road and bear right to enter the driveway of Craflwyn Hall. Cross left in front of the hall along a short driveway and return to the car park.

The described route is a guide only, it’s always advisable to use a map or a GPS device.

Fancy a pint of Glaslyn? Not the river water, but the ale of the same name, courtesy of the Purple Moose Brewery. If your homeward journey swings towards Conwy then the  Pen Y Gwryd Hotel is worth a visit. A distinctly quirky pub, the building is dated at 1810. Worth noting that the Pen Y Gwryd Hotel was the training base for Sir Edmund Hillary before he attempted Everest in 1953. Lots of interesting memorabilia on the walls, including Hillary’s scrawled signature – captured forever beneath protective plastic – on the ceiling. Many an expedition continues to be planned here, although perhaps not on Hillary’s scale! http://www.pyg.co.uk/

 

Moel Eilio

A circular walk of 7.5 miles including 2,500 feet of elevation overall. Start Point: The disused quarry by Donen Las, Groeslon, Waunfawr. Map References: SH 5509159893  or Lat: 53.116473  Lon: -4.166625

adult-blur-boots-1452784Moel Eilio is situated approximately 3 miles north-west of Snowdon. It has two subsidiary tops, Foel Gron and Foel Goch. From the elevated start point below Cefn Du, Moel Eilio looks remarkably modest; a mere hill alongside its more impressive neighbours, but then mountains nestled in the foothills of Snowdon will always look like the poor relation. In terms of endurance this route is not to be underestimated as the undulating nature of this cluster of 3 summits requires some stamina. And then, just as you might think it’s all easy going as one heads for home through Telegraph Valley, there’s a final ascent to return to the start point. But the climbing is well worth the effort. On a clear day the scenery is spectacular across the ridge, affording views across to Anglesey and Llanddwyn Island, the Llyn Peninsular, the Rivals, the Nantlle Ridge, and of course, the Snowdon Horseshoe. The way is well defined on grassy tracks or bridleways.

The Telegraph Path is so named after the first successful Marconi long-wave transmitting station, situated on the west-northwest slopes of Cefn Du. The station was in use between 1912 and 1938 and was for many years the most important long-wave station in Britain, handling imperial and international communications. The site closed in 1938 but remains of the buildings are still visible. Historical evidence of the slate industry is another strong feature of this landscape, as nearby Llanberis clearly illustrates via Dinorwic Quarry – a vast scar embedded in the hillside above Llyn Padarn. The first commercial attempts at slate mining in the area took place in 1787. By the late nineteenth century, Penrhyn and Dinorwic were the two largest slate quarries in the world. 

The route

  1. From the parking area, turn left along the track past the slate tips until the fingerpost sign directs you onto the main route across Moel Eilio. It’s a well-defined ascent and the summit is denoted by a large stone shelter.
  2. Ignore the ladder stile by the shelter and, following the fence-line on the right, continue downhill in a southerly direction, keeping Snowdon ahead at all times. Take the next ladder stile over the wall, keeping the fence-line to the left.
  3. Tackle the curving ridge of Foel Gron, then take the next stile, keeping the fence-line on the right. The next two stiles crop up almost together forming a right angle, before ascending the final grassy knoll of Foel Goch.
  4. Once over the summit, the track begins to descend the short but steep flanks of Foel Goch. Bear right here on an eroded track heading towards the bottom of the valley where the Telegraph Path skirts the foot of Snowdon.
  5. On reaching the bottom, loop back by turning sharp left along the Telegraph Path, a long bridleway which heads down towards Llanberis and runs parallel to the Moel Eilio trio of hills. Good views to the right of Llanberis, Dinorwic Quarry, and Llyn Padarn.
  6. Follow the bridleway for some 4 miles, passing the Marconi Tower to your left and ignoring all right-hand routes down to Llanberis. Pass through all the boundary gates and stiles and continue straight on as the path begins to ascend.
  7. At the T junction turn left and continue the ascent along the slate trail bridleway until a final kissing gate returns you to the start.

The described route is a guide only, it’s always advisable to use a map or a GPS device.

Beddgelert and Cwm Bychan

A circular walk of 7 miles including 1,500 feet of elevation overall. Start Point: Layby on the A498 by Llyn Dinas, Nantgwynant, Beddgelert, Gwynedd, LL55 4NG. Map References: SH 6124149371  or Lat: 53.023590  Lon: -4.070265  

adult-blur-boots-1452784This route offers a great variety of scenery from panoramic, mountainous views across the heart of Snowdonia, to wooded valleys smothered in bluebells in the springtime, to the iconic village of Beddgelert and the pretty River Glasyln.

The village is probably named after an early Christian missionary called Celert who settled here early in the 8th century, although the folk tale of Gelert the dog is more often associated with Beddgelert. There is a raised mound called Gelert’s Grave – a significant tourist attraction. The dog is alleged to have belonged to Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd, a gift from King John of England. In this legend, Llywelyn returns from hunting to find his baby missing, the cradle overturned, and Gelert sporting a blood-smeared jaw. Believing the dog had savaged the child, Llywelyn drew his sword and killed it. But then Llywelyn heard the cries of the baby, unharmed under the cradle, along with the dead wolf which had attacked the child – killed by his faithful hound, Gelert. Llywelyn was overcome with remorse and buried the dog with great ceremony, haunted by his dying yelps. After that day, Llywelyn never smiled again. A sad tale, but the grave was actually built in the late 18th-century by the landlord of the Goat Hotel, David Pritchard, who created it in order to encourage tourism.

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The route

  1. Go through the gate by the footpath sign, walk the short distance along the edge of the lake before passing over the bridge and turning right to follow the River Glaslyn as it flows downstream towards Beddgelert – for almost two miles.
  2. At the copper mine, ignore the road bridge to the right and turn left towards the car park before turning sharp right to take a footpath alongside the drystone wall. At the end of this short track, turn right on the single-track road and continue towards Beddgelert. At the next road bridge go through the metal gate to the left alongside the river, taking the path into Beddgelert.
  3. Cross the pedestrian bridge over the river then turn left to walk alongside the Glaslyn for about half-a-mile – the route here is sign-posted to ‘Gelert’s Grave.’ At the next bridge, pass beneath it to emerge onto the road. Cross the road and take the stile opposite into grazing land. Keep left alongside the drystone wall, ignoring the first stile by a metal gate into the woods, taking the next stile which crosses over the wall.
  4. Pass a ruined barn to your left and continue along the well-defined grassy track that climbs steadily towards Bryn Du. The lower slopes here are covered in bluebells in springtime, and throughout summer the tooting of steam trains echo across the valley. Follow the National Trust posts as the route winds up towards a small stone enclosure on the summit. Some of this path can be boggy after heavy rain but there are stepping-stones in the form of well-placed boulders.
  5. At the top, far-reaching views towards Snowdon and Moel Siabod make a good stopping point for a tea-break, before turning right towards Aberglasyn Woods. Take the stile over the wall into the woods, and continue to follow the National Trust markers, taking care on the steep sections as the route begins its descent.
  6. At the bottom of the woods, turn left and emerge onto the road. Turn left and walk along the road for a short distance before taking the stone road bridge on the right. Go through the metal kissing gate on the left and turn sharp right to ascend the track which leads through a copse of trees, arriving at a car park.
  7. Turn left and head towards the railway arch, following the route through a small picnic area before taking a well-defined, gradually ascending track towards Cwm Bychan.
  8. The route opens out into a narrow valley, with evidence of copper mining. Head up towards a wooden ladder stile which passes over a drystone wall and onto the summit of Cwm Bychan. Again, panoramic scenery as the route heads towards Llyn Dinas.
  9. Take the steep steps back down to the lakeside and retrace the route back over the footbridge to the starting point. This walk works equally well in reverse, allowing for a well-timed pub stop in Beddgelert towards the end of the walk.

The described route is a guide only, it’s always advisable to use a map or a GPS device.

More Beddgelert photography: https://janruth.com/2017/06/01/beddgelert/

Aber Falls

adult-blur-boots-1452784A circular walk of 5.2 miles including 985 feet of elevation overall. Start Point: The service road off the A55 slipway by Aber Falls Hotel, Abergwyngregyn, Llanfairfechan. LL33 OLP. Map References: 6562572840 or Lat: 53.235540 Lon: -4.014783

An easy circuit taking in Aber Falls. The waterfall is formed as the Afon Goch plunges about 120 feet over a sill of igneous rock in the foothills of the Carneddau range; especially spectacular in full spate after heavy rain or suspended in ice and snow as per the photo: spot the ice-climbers! Abergwyngregyn is a small picturesque village with a long and varied history, located between Bangor and Llanfairfechan on the North Wales Coast, opposite Beaumaris which lies across the Menai Strait. Along the main footpath towards the falls there are several small Bronze Age settlements including an excavated roundhouse and smithy, fenced off with an information plaque. Aber Falls Whisky Distillery is one of only four in Wales, and the first in North Wales since the early 1900s – still using specially crafted Welsh ingredients from the surrounding area.

The route

  1. Take the road that winds up through the village. After approx one mile, the road swings sharp left over a stone bridge. Ignore this turning and go straight on through a small car park, and through the gate.
  2. The route here is straightforward and well-signed along a wide path which follows the river upstream towards The Falls.
  3. The path continues across the front of The Falls, down some stone steps and over a wooden footbridge to cross the river, before ascending the other side.
  4. Continue through the gate, signed for the North Wales Path. This lesser-populated section of the walk continues past another, smaller waterfall to the left, and then begins to ascend to the right.
  5. The gradual climb affords good views across the valley and eventually, the Menai Strait, Puffin Island and Anglesey. The Great Orme comes into view at the highest point of the walk.
  6. Once over the stile, there are options here to return to the car park, but cease following any signs for the North Wales path which continues parallel to the coast and bears left towards Bangor. Instead, head downhill, taking the steep, right-hand track on the side of the hill which will return you to the village.
  7. Alternatively, continue onto the wide track ahead and follow this, passing over a couple of stiles alongside gates as the path winds downhill before presenting an optional sharp right towards a cluster of cottages and an old kissing gate. Go through the gate and bear left down the driveway. At the end of this lane, turn right and follow the road a short distance to a T junction. Turn right here, and the car park is on the left.

The described route is a guide only, it’s always advisable to use a map or a GPS device.

Watch: https://www.dailypost.co.uk/business/business-news/video-aber-falls-youve-never-6952438

 

Penycloddiau

A circular walk of 6.5 miles including 1,200 feet of elevation overall. Start Point: Coed Llangwyfan car park on the minor road between the village of Nannerch and Llangwyfan, LL16 4NA. Map References:  SJ: 1389566856 or Lat: 53.191797 Lon: -3.290199

The Clwydian Hills stretch for around 20 miles, rising between the Vale of Clwyd and the Dee Estuary. This undulating landscape is less rugged than the big mountains of Snowdonia, but when visibility is poor in the national park, the weather across the Clwydian hills can often be less harsh. The softer, quieter countryside is a great alternative for those walkers not always driven to scale the popular summits, although Snowdonia is often visible as a jagged horizon across the Vale of Clwyd.

Penycloddiau, one of the largest hillforts in Wales, dates to the Iron Age, around 800BC to 43AD. The Bronze Age cairn at the north end of the fort was restored in 2010 and in 2017, excavations by the Clywdian Range Archaeology Group unearthed a significant number of 4,000-year-old stone tools from the Bronze Age. Most of the fort is defended by a single bank, which in places is made solely of stone. Many hut circles are recorded but are now sadly buried beneath heather and bilberry.

The route

  1. From the car park, take the footpath up in the far righthand corner, signed for Penycloddiau and Offa’s Dyke path; denoted by the acorn marker. Follow the track through the edge of the fir trees, climbing steadily until presented with an obvious turn to the right over a stile and onto open hillside.
  2. The route here is straightforward, following the well-defined track towards the  summit of the hillfort, denoted by a stone cairn. The descent from here is well-marked until you reach another small knoll. Don’t ascend this, bear right and head towards the bank of fir trees and the very visible communications mast on Moel y Parc
  3. A number of paths meet here. Turn sharp left to take up the Clwydian Way, and follow the public byway – The Cilfford Byway – for about 1.5 miles of easy walking with good views across the Vale of Clwyd to the right.
  4. At the end of the byway, turn left on the single-track road. The first footpath on the left will take you back up to the car park – alternatively, continue along the road for a few yards and take the first footpath/bridleway to the right.
  5. Go through the metal gate into open pasture, passing a new property called Pen y Bryn on the right. Follow the track as it swings to the left, passing through several gates and eventually into a wooded area.
  6. Pass through the final gate into open grazing land, where the track doubles back up to the left between a small stone barn and a wooden shack. Follow the track as it winds across the lower reaches of Moel Arthur. The route is less distinct here but the bank of fir trees at the start of the walk and the communications mast are both clearly visible ahead. Keep these to your left as you descend due north.
  7. At the bottom of the hill, pass through the gate onto the single-track road. Turn right and after a few yards, you’ll reach the car park on the left.

The described route is a guide only, it’s always advisable to use a map or a GPS device.